CANADA: Marijuana is harmless and could better serve Canadians if it was legal, said organizers of a demonstration pushing to legalize the drug during a rally Saturday.
“It’s harmless to society and it’s more harmful with our current approach because it’s only creating a black market that fuels gang-related crimes, weapons, trafficking and a myriad of things that make society worse,” said Nikolai Momot, president of the Windsor Cannabis Movement, which hosted the Marijuana March and rally at Senator David Croll Park in downtown Windsor Saturday afternoon.
About 150 local supporters participated in the demonstration. Momot said the event shows there is a lot of support for changing drug laws, something politicians are ignoring and are “causing this wasteful war on marijuana to go on.”
If marijuana was legal, it could be regulated, taxed and create jobs, said Momot.
“Our society would be better served and we would be a lot safer and could improve a lot more things in the city, like paving roads or building schools, if we legalize and tax marijuana,” said Momot. “And that way we can keep it away from kids and bring new jobs to the market with it.”
While Momot said police warned him smoking marijuana during the rally is still illegal, dozens were openly smoking the drug during the event in various ways, from bongs to pipes to several types of hand-rolled varieties.
“They said if there’s a need to, they will enforce those laws,” said Momot. “But we’re a harmless movement and no one’s dealing drugs, no one’s too messed up, and so I think the cops see that and they think, ‘We don’t have to enforce this.’”
Momot said the event featured live entertainment, a poetry reading, and a hotbox tent that people could smoke marijuana in during the rally. A hotbox is an airtight space that contains one or more people smoking marijuana. The exhaled smoke cannot escape and thus circulates the space and is inhaled by the other people.
“We wanted people to have a good time while they demonstrate,” said Momot. “That’s the whole point – getting ourselves out there.”
Rules for the rally included no alcohol, no sale of drugs, no drugs other than cannabis, no littering, including cigarette butts, and no vandalism.
Emily Perry,19, chief marketing officer for the Windsor Cannabis Movement, said prohibition never works and legalizing marijuana needs to be done.
“We want the cops, the government, everyone to see that this is something that people have anyways, and that’s the purpose of the smoking side of the demonstration – we want them to see that it’s out there whether they like it or not and prohibition just doesn’t work,” said Perry.
She said marijuana should be decriminalized because it’s clearly something that many find simple and harmless.
“I think it’s a waste of police and government resources for growing a plant that grows on this earth naturally,” said Perry. “We’re paying for these people to be fed and clothed and washed in prison and it’s not right.”
Michelle Metcalfe said cracking down on marijuana users is a waste of time.
“I mean there’s more important things police could be doing than chasing people down who have a little bit of marijuana,” said Metcalfe, as she waved a red and white flag with a large marijuana leaf on it attached to a cane she converted into a pipe to smoke out of.
“I mean it’s different from other drugs. It’s a calming drug,” said Metcalfe. “I’ve never seen someone get physical or violent while they’re high on marijuana.”
Momot said since marijuana is not a hard drug, it’s more similar to alcohol, and yet it’s viewed as and treated as much worse.
“If you catch someone and say they’re a regular smoker and they get charged because they have a bit too much, now they have a record for something they did that hurt no one, yet now they’re going to have a much harder time getting a job or an apartment,” said Momot. “We’re crippling people for just expressing themselves, but we don’t do that for alcohol.”